Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison
US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning arrives alongside military officials at a US military court facility to hear his sentence in his trial at Fort Meade, Maryland.
August 21st, 2013
11:39 AM ET

Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison

By Paul Courson

For leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents, Bradley Manning is set to spend the next three decades in prison.

A military judge on Wednesday sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison - less than the 60 years prosecutors sought, as well as the 90 years he could have received.

The former Army intelligence analyst - convicted in July of stealing 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos and disseminating them to WikiLeaks - will be credited for the roughly three and a half years he's already served in detention.

The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, also reduced his rank from private first class to private, and ordered him to be dishonorably discharged. Manning also will forfeit pay and benefits.

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Filed under: Bradley Manning • WikiLeaks
Military prosecutors seek at least 60 years for Manning
August 19th, 2013
06:27 PM ET

Military prosecutors seek at least 60 years for Manning

By Paul Courson

Army private Bradley Manning acted as a "determined insider" in leaking a trove of classified documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and should spend a minimum of 60 years in jail, a military prosecutor said at his sentencing hearing on Monday.

Capt. Joe Morrow told Col. Denise Lind, the judge overseeing the former intelligence analyst's court-martial, that such punishment for the historic and unauthorized release of hundreds of thousands of documents and other information to WikiLeaks would ensure that "we never see a number like this again."

Defense attorney David Coombs portrayed Manning as an excellent candidate for rehabilitation, and that he should not be left to "rot in jail."
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May 31st, 2013
03:36 AM ET

State Department releases annual U.S. report on terrorism

By CNN's Paul Courson

A country-by-country study of trends in terrorism finds unilateral and "lone wolf" threats rising alongside state-sponsored acts, according to findings released Thursday by the U.S. State Department.

The 200-page study, "Country Reports on Terrorism 2012," includes a strategic assessment, a survey of counter terrorism efforts and reviews of what researchers believe are state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations.

The Iranian government was cited for a "resurgence" of what the report calls "state sponsorship of terrorism" through Iran's military intelligence apparatus and support for terrorist operatives associated with Hezbollah, who carry out attacks outside Iran.

The report also concluded that independent terrorist activity exists without obvious support from organized governments.  Counter-terrorism efforts are having an impact on al-Qaeda, it said, evidenced by splintered leadership.  That has forced the group to operate in smaller, more local venues, the study found.

The report's Strategic Assessment said al-Qaeda's "ability to direct the activities and attacks of its affiliates has diminished, as its leaders focus increasingly on survival." The study cautioned that the group retains influence operating from its safe haven in western Pakistan.

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Survey shows little improvement in religious freedom
Secretary of State John Kerry
May 20th, 2013
06:18 PM ET

Survey shows little improvement in religious freedom

By Paul Courson

There has been little improvement in religious freedom worldwide but some positive changes were seen in Turkey and Vietnam, according to an annual State Department survey of nearly 200 countries.

Secretary of State John Kerry, a former U.S. senator who helped push the law mandating the original report 15 years ago, helped announce the findings on Monday in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

"This report is a clear-eyed, objective look at the state of religious freedom around the world. And when necessary, yes, it does directly call out some of our close friends, as well as some countries with whom we seek stronger ties."

Government repression in China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia has kept all three countries on a list the report calls "Countries of Particular Concern."

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Filed under: China • Congress • Foreign Policy • North Korea • Saudi Arabia • Sec. State John Kerry
Kerry: To bring light to world, U.S. must go 'where it's dark'
September 11, 2012 attack on U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya
May 20th, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Kerry: To bring light to world, U.S. must go 'where it's dark'

By Paul Courson

Secretary of State John Kerry tried to reassure diplomatic workers on Monday that security improvements are underway at American missions around the world where they are likely to be deployed.

The measures include plans for a rapid evacuation contingency if conditions turn deadly, as they did last September during a terror attack on the U.S. post in Benghazi, Libya.

In opening remarks at a "Security Overseas Seminar" at the Foreign Service Institute, Kerry said there's a balance between making contact with the local populations the United States is trying to serve, and protecting Americans working in hostile regions.

"Diplomacy and security needs do not have to be trade-offs," he said, declaring that "if we are going to bring light to the world, we have to go where it is dark."

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Filed under: Libya • Sec. State John Kerry • State Department • Terrorism
Accused 9/11 mastermind says U.S. tortured in name of national security
Sketch by Janet Hamlin
October 17th, 2012
06:14 PM ET

Accused 9/11 mastermind says U.S. tortured in name of national security

By Paul Courson

Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asserted on Wednesday that the U.S. government sanctioned torture in the name of national security, and compared the scale of the terror attack that killed nearly 3,000 people to the "millions" he said have been killed by America's military.

"Many can kill people under the name of national security, and torture people under the name of national security," Mohammed said during a pretrial hearing at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"This is a resilient definition," he said in open court, as military censors stood ready to interrupt the video and audio.

"Every dictator can put on shoes to step on this definition, every law, every constitution, with this definition any can evade the rule and also go against it," he said.

He also compared the nearly 3,000 victims killed in the 9/11 hijack attacks in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania to killings he blamed on the American military that he said number in the "millions."

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Gitmo • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed • Terrorism
Escape won't stop the Gitmo trial
Sketch by Janet Hamlin
October 15th, 2012
07:04 PM ET

Escape won't stop the Gitmo trial

By Paul Courson, reporting from Ft. Meade, Maryland.

A question about whether al Qaeda suspects in the 2001 hijack attack on New York and Washington could still be tried in their absence caused some unexpected confusion at a hearing.

Defense lawyers argued that their clients, who are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, should not have to attend the hearing because it brings up memories of their harsh treatment by the Central Intelligence Agency. The military judge ruled that the men could decide each day whether they wish to attend but if they decline they must answer a series of questions about their rights.

The list that the judge, Army Capt. James Pohl, developed to address concerns when a detainee voluntarily waives his right to be present at trial, was agreed to by both defense and prosecution. But one of the questions, regarding their rights should the defendant be out of control of the U.S. military, caused considerable confusion. FULL POST

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Iraq ambassador nomination in jeopardy over affair, racy emails
June 14th, 2012
05:21 PM ET

Iraq ambassador nomination in jeopardy over affair, racy emails

The nomination of the president's pick to be ambassador to Iraq appeared to be in jeopardy Thursday as Senate Democrats raised concerns about recent revelations of questionable conduct, reports CNN's Ted Barrett and Paul Courson.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he is "evaluating" controversies surrounding Brett McGurk and may postpone a scheduled committee vote on the nomination next Tuesday.

"I need to talk to senators and evaluate where we are," Sen. John Kerry told CNN. "People have become aware of things they weren't, so we have to evaluate."

Read the whole story on CNN's Political Ticker

Bradley Manning's lawyer tries to get charges dismissed
US Army Pfc Bradley Manning arrives for court hearing at Ft. Meade, Maryland
March 15th, 2012
07:08 PM ET

Bradley Manning's lawyer tries to get charges dismissed

By Paul Courson

The U.S. Army soldier suspected of leaking a trove of classified military and diplomatic information to WikiLeaks cannot get a fair trial because prosecutors have failed to comply with the rules of court-martial, Bradley Manning's attorney said Thursday at a hearing at Fort Meade in Maryland. The hearing is the latest in the Manning case which is expected to go to military trial this year.

David Coombs, a private attorney whose fees have been paid by Manning supporters around the world, handed a military judge a motion to dismiss all 22 charges Manning is facing.

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Filed under: Legal • Military
Guilty plea for Gitmo detainee
February 29th, 2012
12:44 PM ET

Guilty plea for Gitmo detainee

By Paul Courson

Majid Shoukat Khan, a terror suspect who has been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, pleaded guilty Wednesday to all charges against him as part of a plea deal that would require him to testify against other detainees.

Khan is expected to spend up to 15 years behind bars in exchange for the deal, according to Army Col. James Pohl, the presiding military commission judge. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gitmo • Living With Terror • Terrorism